Witch Hunting In America: A Guide

Witch Hunting In America
Source: https://www.newyorker.com

Witch-hunting is an activity that involves searches carried out for individuals identified to have been involved in witchcraft activities or involved in any form of dark magic. Although this is an activity majorly carried out during the early ages in history, witch-hunting is still done in most rural cultures today in the world, particularly in African regions.

Taking a look at witch-hunting in America

Although our present-day society criticizes witch-hunting, American history has shown that there have been numerous cases of witch-hunting in America, mainly dating back to the pre-colonial period. The most notable witch-hunting period is the one that happened in Salem during the 1600s, and it is the deadliest of them all.

There is more about this topic that you would find interesting, so keep reading!

About Witch-Hunting

Witch-hunting is an ideology that seems to believe that human beings can access other realms and possess supernatural powers. Studies have shown that witch-hunting proponents were significant to the belief that human beings should not indulge in any form of magic.

They stated that magic was evil and connected the various social vices and perils that communities had faced to the practice of witchcraft. Then, it led to the introduction of witch-hunting in multiple cities and villages to prevent the outspread of evil in the land.

Most times, if caught handling any form of artifacts or making any form of enchantments during the day or night, you would be marked and later searched out to face judgment. The significant punishments meted out to individuals involved in witchcraft were execution by death, hanging, or by firing squad.

Also, convicts of witchcraft had varying degrees of jail terms meted on them.

The regions of America, Africa, and Asia practice witchcraft.

Reasons Americans Got Involved In Witch-Hunting

There are some explanations for why Americans ventured into witch-hunting exercises. Some of these reasons are:

Unexplainable deaths

There had been a lot of disappearances and strange deaths in pre-colonial America. There were sightings of people that died, and when they carry out investigations, it showed that the people killed supposedly were sacrifices to deities and idols. However, towns-men and inhabitants looked into it; and findings showed that perpetrators of those acts were members of their village or community.

Also, during that time, there were strange disappearances of individuals, majorly children, and this caused an uproar. It is one of the reasons that led to the increase in witch-hunting activities in early America.


There were also strange types of illnesses that occurred amongst the masses in early America, which the inhabitants of the affected communities equated to the handiworks of witchcraft activities. During those times, the role of medical institutions had not gained much ground.

The inhabitants of pre-colonial America frequently equated mental disorders and various illnesses like schizophrenia to witchcraft manipulations. They claimed it was a result of witches trying to permit spirits into human bodies.


Although many historians now seem to attack the ideology of manipulations and possessions, the early Americans were said to have recorded strange behaviors in individuals, particularly children, and teenagers. Most often, they equated devilish characters they started noticing in their children to witchcraft manipulations. The religious segment in America majorly enforced this particular reason at that time.

Supernatural powers

Also, another of the primary reasons for the widespread of witch-hunting in America was when citizens of the state supposedly started seeing human beings exhibit strange psychic powers. Some of these peculiar powers were said to have been the ability to speak with the dead.

Many claimed to have seen these supposed witches or warlocks levitate on-air and exhibit strange human strength in the lifting of objects. Although there are no videos on tape to back up these claims, historical writings show that they happened.

Religion And Witch-Hunting In America

Religion, particularly Christianity in America, contributed mainly to the widespread of witch-hunting in America. They connected the practice of witchcraft to the many social problems the various communities were facing. They were of the ideology that the multiple killings and economic meltdown that was happening in the territories were due to witchcraft activities.

Although they started with little or no supporters, the religious community later gained great followers from the masses. Most often, families would invite the priest to their houses when any form of witchcraft activity was sighted. They usually conducted sanctification ceremonies and exorcisms to cast out the spirits supposedly conjured up by the witches and warlocks. They contributed majorly to the execution of witches, believing the verse stated in their Bible that a witch ought not to live, and one should not allow them to do so.

Why Early Americans Involved In Witchcraft?

According to reports from various historical researches, individuals in America that were said to have practiced witchcraft often gave reasons as to why they gave themselves to it. Some of these reasons are:

The quest for power

They had the belief that human beings had much higher potential than what we thought, and the rise of science was trying to limit the inherent powers trapped in a human vessel. They often stated that this power could go a long way in helping humanity.

They claimed they had the solution to sicknesses, ailments, and even poverty. They were of the ideology that to bring peace to the land; you need to get in partnership with spirits to effect the change.


During the times of pre-colonial America, there were many sicknesses that science could not explain or treat. People that were involved in this witchcraft activities often stated that one of their primary reasons for getting into the practice was to cure the sicknesses of their families and provide security and protection for them.

Studies have also shown that the imminent fear of witchcraft contributed to more people getting involved in witchcraft.

Communication with the dead

Witches were said to believe that once a human being dies, his spirit departs to another realm. People that involved themselves in witchcraft often stated that the reason for them doing so was so they could commune with their loved ones who had passed away. Also, they claimed these spirits of the dead had a vast knowledge about their land, which could help in developing it for further generations.

Fortune telling

The people at that time resorted to witchcraft so that they could foretell things and events that would happen in the times to come. They also did this so that they could predict who their enemies were and also how to prevent evils from befalling them.

The Witch Hunts Carried Out In America

There have been various witch hunts carried out in America throughout history. However, we shall look at the most popular, and the deadliest of them all, as recorded in American history.

Salem Witch-hunt

It was a historical and widely criticized event that took place within the region of Massachusetts from the year 1692 to 1693. Now, what initially triggered it was the case of a married couple (Hugh Parsons and Mary Parsons) who accused each other of practicing witchcraft. Much later, the wife was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of her child.

Records show that about two hundred people got convicted of practicing witchcraft during that time. Records also show that about 30 people were found guilty, and nineteen were executed by hanging.

There was a notable convict called Giles Corey at that time who decided not to plead. Thus, he got himself killed with stones pressed against him. The courts that gave out these judgments were the Court of Oyer and also the Court of Terminer.

Now, although the witch-hunting majorly took place within the regions of Salem, historical account also shows that it spread through the areas of Ipswich and Andover.

Modern-day witch-hunting in America

It is important to note that there have been no accounts of witch-hunting in America in this modern-day and time. The government and present-day Americans have much condemned the actions of their forefathers, stating that they believed fables and were too superstitious in their approach to life’s situations.

Although there have still been various supposed witchcraft killings throughout the years in America amongst individuals, typically one or two, there has been nothing of serious concern as regards witch-hunting in America in modern times.

It is considered a usual way of life such that one of the subjects taught in schools is witchcraft, and there are books everywhere on the item. Thus, in some quarters, they consider witchcraft as a universal human belief just like any religion with no negative consequences to humanity.

We now have individuals practicing witchcraft in the names of spellcraft and divination in this modern-day or the guise of modern paganism.


The issue of witchcraft is a somewhat controversial one, as many still argue if the beliefs that were raised by our forefathers in America were real or just fables. In life, we all choose what we want to believe. However, witch-hunting in America is a thing of the past. The practice of witch-hunting still exists across the world, especially the African and Asian regions.

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